What are the AANS/CNS guidelines on immobilization of acute spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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The 2013 update of the AANS/CNS Guidelines for the Management of Acute Cervical Spine and Spinal Cord Injury include the following recommendations. [57, 58]


Immobilization of trauma patients who are awake, alert, and are not intoxicated; who are without neck pain or tenderness; who do not have an abnormal motor or sensory examination; and who do not have any significant associated injury that might detract from their general evaluation is not recommended.

A combination of a rigid cervical collar and supportive blocks on a backboard with straps is effective in limiting motion of the cervical spine and is recommended.

The longstanding practice of attempted spinal immobilization with sandbags and tape is insufficient and is not recommended.

Spinal immobilization in patients with penetrating trauma is not recommended.

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